life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday HodgePodge

From this Side of the Pond

Joyce has more questions.

1. Are you currently operating at 100% capacity? If not, what % are you? What's keeping you there?

Not at all near 100% these days.  Knee and back pain are keeping me from doing all I want.  And I'm so busy at work these days that some other pursuits are getting left behind.  And I don't know what the solution is.

2.  Have you done your taxes? Planned/booked a summer holiday? Thought about or started your 'spring cleaning'? Besides what's listed here, tell us one task that needs doing before spring rolls around.

Taxes are done, I always see the accountant in mid February.  Getting a small refund this year.  We do our "spring cleaning" just before Passover, and the holiday comes early this year, so I guess it's time to start thinking about it.  Haven't given much thought to summer plans yet.

3. What's a favorite food from your part of the country?

I am blessed to live in the New York metro area, with its wealth of food choices. I think the best of this area is epitomized by Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook. (Enjoy the preview.)  New York pizza.  New York bagels.  Felafel  Jamaican beef patties.  Empanadas.  Dim sum.  Cannoli.  Knishes.  Spanikopita.  Pad Thai.  Black and white cookies. 

So, who could possibly choose just one?

4. This isn't a leap year, but let's run with it anyway...look before you leap, a leap of faith, grow by leaps and bounds, leap to conclusions, leap at the opportunity...which phrase might best be applied to your life currently (or recently)? Explain.

Leap at the opportunity.  It's work-related, and therefore too boring to blog about.

5. As the month draws to a close list five fun and/or fabulous things (large or small) you noticed or experienced in February.

It's been a fun month.  Drew's birthday party.  The ballet.  Free pancakes at iHop on my birthday.  The peacocks at the Milleridge Inn.  Black Panther.  The start of the Mets' spring training.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Small world time.  I had a business meeting on East 42nd Strret yesterday.  I was in the lobby, at the security desk, showing the guard my driver's license so I could get my pass to go upstairs, when I heard a familiar voice.  I turned around, and there were Drew's aunt and uncle.  Her doctor has an office in the same building; they were leaving just as I was arriving.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Bryant Park Grill

Bryant Park Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Behind the New York Public Library, with a great view of the park, is a nice little restaurant called the Bryant Park Grill.

I was here for lunch a couple of weeks ago, and I really enjoyed the experience.  We sat in the tent area, right near the windows, and were able to watch all the comings and goings in the park.  Service was friendly and attentive.  As per the menu, if you want a breadbasket, you have to request it.  

We started with the calamari — nicely fried, neither greasy nor chewy, and served with a thick, creamy sauce.  My entree was the stir fried turkey salad — white meat turkey, brown rice, vegetables and a side of field greens.  Very tasty,  lightly seasoned with an Asian dressing.  Lunch portions tend to be smaller, so no leftovers, but I was satisfied with the dish.

Overall a very satisfactory experience, I would love to go back for dinner sometime.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Black Panther!

Of course you knew we were going to see this movie.  We’ve seen just about every Marvel superhero movie.

What I expect from a superhero movie:  a hero I can root for, villains to hate, lots of action, some humor.

Black Panther delivered all that, and more.

James Bond-like technology and glamour.  Strong, admirable female characters.  And the richness of African culture.

(And that last one is getting the bigots angry.  Pity.)

There’s the ubiquitous Stan Lee cameo.  Hard to believe that man is in his 90’s.

And not one, but two —yes, two — post credit bonus scenes.

I won’t spoil it for you ...

But we, the audience, have been set up for Avengers:Infinity War.  And I can hardly wait until May.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Star-crossed lovers

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life ...

I have always been fascinated by the tale, of Capulets and Montagues, of romance and sword fights, of love and loss and tragic endings.  Romeo and Juliet was the first Shakespearean play I ever read.  And when I saw Zeffirelli’s film, the story really came to life.

I even committed Romeo’s balcony-scene monologue to memory.  But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?  It is the east, and Juliet is the sun ...

My friend B is a real aficionado of the ballet.  She has a subscription to the NYC Ballet at Lincoln Center, and attends many performances.  I go with her about 3 times a year.

And when I learned that this year’s offerings included Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, I knew which ballet I wanted to see.

The story is beautifully told through dance.    I especially loved the costuming — the Montagues in green, the Capulets in red, and the principal dancers in unique and colorful costumes — Mercutio in purple, Benvolio in blue, Tybalt in bright yellow.  Romeo wears aqua, and the virginal Juliet is in white.   (Sorry, no photos, you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the theater.). The balcony scene ...well, without dialogue, Juliet comes down to the garden to dance with Romeo. The sword fights were meticulously choreographed and very exciting.  And the mandolin scene — a scene where street performers entertain the crowds — added just the right amount of humor to the story.

Wonderful evening of ballet.  I’m learning so much by hanging around with B.

Our next ballet will be in May, a tribute to Jerome Robbins.  And it will include, interestingly, a West Side Story suite.  I’m excited.

And as we were leaving, I glanced across the plaza at the opera house.  My parents loved the opera, but I have never been.  I feel a little bit like Cher in Moonstruck.   So I looked up the schedule for The Metropolitan Opera...and they are presenting Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette in April.  Perhaps ...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Art can be fun!

So I went to Lincoln Center last night to see the NYC Ballet.  The lobby of the theater is huge, as is used for an ever-changing display of artwork.

This winter the lobby features the work of Jihan Zencerli.  Her chosen medium is ... balloons.  

Her message:  life is transient, so enjoy it.  Balloons are not meant to last forever, you will only have this specific experience at this moment.  

And her creation was amazing:

You can actually walk through the sculpture:

This little girl was actually dancing inside the sculpture.

The detailing is incredible.

Truly amazing experience.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


March 2016, and our long-time next-door neighbors finally sold their house.  We expected the sale, of course.  The house had been on the market for awhile, the couple who owned it were snowbirds who spent more time in Florida than they did in New York.

The young couple who bought the house didn’t move in right away.  They had plans to renovate the 50-year-old house, to expand it and make it their own. The new owners would come by periodically to check on the construction work, and to meet the neighbors and enquire about the best preschool for their three year old son.

Renovations took over a year, the family moved in towards the end of the construction period.  

In November 2017 we heard that they had adopted another child, a little girl.  In December they decorated the whole house for their first Christmas in their new home.

The “for sale” sign went up last week, one month shy of the second anniversary of their purchase of the property.

I’m not embarrassed to tell you that when I saw the sign, I did a bit of googling on the real estate websites.  I found numerous listings for the house, full of photos showing off the new features.  I also found an older listing, from when the snowbirds sold the house two years ago.  It was like looking at two different houses.  And the current asking price is about 2 1/2 times what they paid for the property.

I don’t believe they bought the house with the intention of flipping it.  I think they sincerely planned to make their home here, to raise their children in this community.  Some of the changes they made to the house were very personal, things that advertised who they are as a family, and which the next owner is going to want to change.

So I have to wonder what happened.  Why are they selling!  Why are they moving away?  Money problems?  Relationship problems?  A better opportunity elsewhere?

Perhaps the next new neighbor will know.  Perhaps I’ll never find out.

I’m far too curious about it for my own good.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sushi Palace

Sushi Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All you can eat sushi, and it's not a buffet.

It's a small, storefront restaurant, nicely decorated.  They have a regular menu as well as an all-you-can-eat menu.  Choose the latter and you'll be given two order forms, one for sishi and another for kitchen dishes.

We were a group of four, including one who doesn't really care for sushi, and we all found plenty of variety on the menu.

I really liked the rock shrimp tempura, the beef negamaki and the pork gyoza.  The fried calamari, served with a sweet, fruity sauce, was a bit too chewy.  I'm told the squid and fried oysters were amazing, but I didn't care for either.

We had so many different types of sushi that I lost track ... salmon with avocado, spicy tuna, soft shell crab...

Dessert?  You can get ice cream, fried bananas or fried Oreos ...the Oreos were light and fluffy and very very gooey.

Definitely worth a try.

Monday, February 19, 2018

More this and that

Yesterday’s Google Doodle ...I must have listed my birthday in my Google profile because the doodle was “birthday candles” and it linked to sites that talked about all the famous people born on February 18.

Yesterday I heard from my cousin.  Well, technically we aren’t related.  When D was six years old, his father married my aunt. His father died when D was 11, and we lost track of each other for many years.  I always hear from D on my birthday, because his birthday is the day after mine and we are the same age.  He texted me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday, and today I will text him to wish him a happy birthday.

D lives in Parkland, FL.  His kids went to the high school where the shooting took place.  He was in a Starbucks near the school when the shooting happened, he saw lots of frightened kids.

Another friend of mine posted about the hero teacher who came from my home town.  H grew up in my home town on Long Island, but he moved to Florida after college.  He went to high school with the deceased teacher.

Six degrees of separation indeed.

I was so impressed with the five Parkland students who made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows.  Educated and articulate, they stated their case in no uncertain terms.  They are our hope for the future.

Duchess has learned a new trick.  Drew likes to keep a collar on her, with a bell, so he knows where she is.  Clever cat has learned how to take the collar off.  She’s strictly an indoor cat, but she loves to sit in the window and watch the backyard show.  Birds are her favorites, she makes little growling noises when she sees them.   But lately she’s been interested in the other cats that dare to enter her yard.

My friend L is back at rehab.  She was in the hospital for awhile, pneumonia so bad that we all thought she was going to die.  But she bounced back.  She posted on Facebook that she still has a lot of singing to do.  

Another friend, K, is home, off work while she’s recovering from pneumonia.  Obviously not as bad a case as L, but still...

I had pneumonia once, about 20 years ago.  Landed me in the hospital for almost a week.  Not fun.

I was smart this year, made sure to get my flu shot.  Considering how terrible flu season has been this year, I am so glad I did.   

I can’t afford to be sick, I still have a lot of birthday celebrations lined up.

Oh, yes, the celebrations will continue.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Birthday dinner

So yesterday Drew and I went out to celebrate our birthdays.we had dinner at  The Milleridge Inn.

The Milleridge Inn is a Long Island icon.  It began operating as an inn and tavern in colonial times.  Rumor has it George Washington dined here, but there’s no proof of that.  The original two-room building has been expanded into a large, modern restaurant, but care has been taken to preserve the colonial look of the place. Read about it here.

Also on the grounds are The Milleridge Cottage (a catering hall) and The Milleridge Shops.  And when you’re there, you forget that you’re right next door to a strip mall.

They were still decorated for Valentine’s Day. All sorts of lights on the lawn.  Pink hearts, mostly.  I’m still trying to figure out what this is:

Yes, that’s snow on the ground.  It was snowing lightly all evening.

We got about 45 minutes before our reservation time, so that we could explore the shops.  The shop area was almost deserted. Most of the shops had closed early, but we did get a chance to browse in the General Store and the Christmas shop.

And then we found the resident peacocks, huddled together on a porch this chilly, snowy night.

No, no one wanted to spread out his tail feathers for us.

And yes, they have a coop.  They share it with the resident chickens and turkeys.

The decor inside the inn ... Drew said it reminded him of a certain Fred Astaire/Bing Crosby movie.

We had an excellent dinner.  We started with their famous cinnamon bread and shared an order of baked clams oreganata.  I had chicken francese and he had skirt steak. The sangria was sweet and fruity.  No dessert, we were too full.

All in all, a lovely evening.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

And then it became real

The tears started to flow when I saw the mother on CNN.  She had just spent two hours planning her 14 year old daughter’s funeral.  She aimed her comments at the Oval
 Office, unleashing her anguish and her anger in a statement so powerful it left the news anchor speechless and overcome with emotion.

And then I learned that one of the hero teachers (there were three brave men who gave their lives protecting students) grew up in my home town.  The article in the newspaper mentioned the high school he attended — the same school I went to, the same school my sisters and my daughters attended. His family belonged to the Reform synagogue.   I didn’t know him, I don’t know his family ... but suddenly it felt real.  If it could happen to him, it could happen to any of us.

Dear G-d, I am so tired of crying.

Friday, February 16, 2018


View of my office parking lot as I was leaving work the other day.  I Loved how the trees were silhouetted  against the sky.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another this and that

So last night was Valentine’s Day, and Drew and I went to our favorite Greek place for dinner.  We drank sangria and dined on soft Turkish bread dipped in tzatziki, spanakopita, rice pilaf...he had kebabs, I had baby lamb chops. He finished with tiramisu, I had galaktoboureko.  They practically had to roll us out the door ...

The gas company truck was still in front of my house when I got home.  There is now a third trench in the lawn, and the mailbox is now lying on the grass. I do hope they plan to put everything back where they found it once repairs are completed.  I mean, I’m glad our house didn’t blow up or anything, but oh my what a mess they  made!

The gel injections for my knee have been ordered.  The doctor’s office will call me to set up an appointment when the medication is delivered to their office.  And just in time, too.  My knee is really starting to hurt again.

Our big plans for the weekend include a movie.  The Black Panther is part of the Marvel universe.  We are Avengers fans.  And it got great reviews.  So I’m psyched.

The other day Drew asked me if I want to see a Mets game in June.  It’s some sort of trip through the school where he works.  Seats won’t be great, but it should be fun.  I’m not likely to turn down Mets tickets ...

Just another day in these United States.

Except ... I almost forgot to mention.  There was another school shooting today, at a high school in Broward County, Florida.  A former student killed 17 people.  I expected to feel shocked, angry, upset, sad, frustrated.  But these shootings have become so ‘normal’ that all I feel is ...numb.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday HodgePodge

From this Side of the Pond

Today's questions from Joyce.

1. When's the last time you had a heart to heart talk with someone? A change of heart? Experienced figurative 'heart failure?'

Heart failure?  That's an easy one.  I had some errands to run after work yesterday, so I didn't get home until about 9 PM.  As I drove up my street I could see a huge truck parked in front of my house.  A little investigation revealed that the truck belongs to our gas company.  There were two large holes in my lawn. The truck was still there at 4:30 in the morning. When I left for work at 8:30, the gas company truck was gone, but there were two trucks from the electric company on the street.  A third truck arrived while I was pulling out of my driveway.  I drove down to the end of the street, where I saw two gas company trucks headed towards my house.  Yikes! 

I don't know what's going on, but I hope they fix it soon.

here's what the lawn looked like this morning:

 2. Champagne, chocolates, flowers...what's your Valentine pleasure? Any special plans for the day?

All three, please.  Drew and I are going out tonight.  Kind of low-key this year, we're having dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant.  They're running a special, a three course dinner that includes a glass of wine. 

 3. Are you a hopeless romantic or do you fall more in the category of practical and pragmatic? What's a gesture you find romantic?

I pretend to be practical and pragmatic.

 4. Do you ask a lot of questions in life or are you pretty content with what you already know?

Never stop asking questions, you will stagnate and die.

5. Your favorite power ballad?

 6. Insert your own random thought here.

We celebrated Mardi Gras in the office yesterday.  King cake, pastries, chocolate coins, beads.  It was a lot of fun.  Maybe someday I'll actually be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I have always wanted to see that city.

Monday, February 12, 2018

musical memory...times two

 I heard a song on the radio the other day, a song that brought back a lot of memories.

It was 2004, and Jen and Becca were in middle school.  And, of course, I was so "uncool".    but nevertheless, I was cool enough to let them listen to their music on the radio whenever we were in the car together.  So of course I got to hear all the popular songs of the day.

So of course we listened to that great song by Bowling for Soup.  You know the one.  The one full of nostalgia for a time before my daughters were even born.

Yes, I'm talking about "1985".

You know the lyric...Her two kids in high school, they tell her that she's uncool 'cause she's still preoccupied with 1985.  

In 1985, I was 25 years old, had just started my first real job, and had just moved into my first apartment in Brooklyn.  And the music I listened to on the radio?  Springsten, Madonna, U2, Blondie...

Yep, all the musical acts mentioned in the song...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bobb Howard's General Store

A small but fun local business, Bobb Howard's General Store is a treasure for children of the 1950's and 1960's.  A small store annexed to an auto repair shop, it features "old" toys and candy.

Drew has known about this place for years, but I had never been.

  So when he told me that they were giving away free egg creams, we had to go.

Step inside and you feel like you've stepped into the past.

I especially liked Bozo the clown:

Lots of other retro toys, a Coke machine, even popcorn.

But the big draw is the candy.  Lots and lots of candy.

Oh was incredible.

Here's my haul:

Mallomars, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Babies, Bonomo Turkish Taffy, a candy necklace, Good & Fruity, Bottlecaps...

Nostalgia Central  So much fun.

If you want to learn more, I found  video:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sad news ...getting older sucks

I am a lifelong fan of the New York Mets.  I am also a huge fan of a local, independent baseball team, the Long Island Ducks.

And what do those two teams have in common?

Buddy Harrelson.

Harrelson played shortstop for the 1969 Mets, had an infamous brawl with Pete Rose... 

He later coached, and then managed the Mets.

He is a part-owner of the Ducks.  In the past he coached or managed the team, but more recently his role has been a sort of good will ambassador, greeting and posing with the fans.  We see him every time we go to a game.

Yesterday I read some sad news.  A sports writer for the New York Post wrote about a recent interview of Buddy, in which Buddy revealed that he has Alzheimer’s. He got the diagnosis two years ago.    And today in the New York Daily News, there was another column, confirming the news.  Newsday  has a story as well.

They wrote that Buddy still talks to Tom Seaver often — Tom Terrific also suffers from memory issues due to. Lyme  Disease.

But it seems he remains upbeat and positive, and plans to visit the ballpark as often as he can.  He’s also making the rounds of Alzheimer’s support groups, encouraging those who are similarly afflicted to make the most of their lives.

My father suffered from Parkinson’s-related dementia, and my mother also has a form of dementia, so I know how difficult life can be with such a condition, and I feel for Buddy and his family.

The idols of my youth are growing older and leaving us.

Friday, February 9, 2018

#skywatchfriday -- the Colgate clock

A view from Jersey City: the famous Colgate clock.

Yes, it really tells time.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

another this and that

"Oops" moment of the week:  the National Weather Service accidentally issued a tsunami warning for the East Coast while testing the "push notification" system.  Of course, there was no tsunami. 

But I didn't realize February was monsoon season in New York.  I had an appointment with my doctor on Wednesday, and I had to drive there and back in the pouring rain.  A deluge.  Highway signs indicating (superfluously) that there was poor visibility due to rain and fog.  The only bright spot?  It wasn't snow.

Remember my frustration over my medical treatment, or absence thereof, for my right knee?  I wrote about it here.  Well, at my appointment with the doctor on Wednesday we revisited my treatment options.  And he made his pitch to my insurance company.  And the verdict is in:  my right knee finally qualifies for the gel injections.

 I'm a tad bit upset with Dunkin' Donuts.  They "streamlined" the menu and eliminated my favorite sandwich -- the veggie egg white flatbread.  You can get  a veggie egg white sandwich on a bagel or an English muffin, but not on a flatbread.  I'm disappointed.   but I'll get over it.  Especially when I get that free coffee on my birthday.

Yes, I love the freebies all the chains give loyal customers on their birthday.  Benihana, IHOP, Cold Stone Creamery, Olive Garden, The Melting Pot, Red Robin...sign up for a rewards card and celebrate your birthday all month long.  Drew celebrated his birthday this week, my birthday is coming up next week, so we are having quite a party.

Speaking of parties...Drew celebrated a milestone birthday this year, so he wanted a real celebration.  We invited 30 of his nearest and dearest to lunch at an Italian restaurant.  Food was excellent, the company even more so.    And Drew was in all his glory. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018


Caracara Mexican Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This is one of the more popular Mexican restaurants in the area, so when we saw the prix fixe menu for Restaurant Week, we figured it was a good time to try CaraCara.

The restaurant occupies a nice-sized space, but because the bar area up front is expansive, the seating area towards the rear of the restaurant seems a bit cramped.  The tables are so close together that the staff had difficulty maneuvering the supply cart for the table-side guacamole.  And no, this is not a place to have a quiet conversation.

It's a very casual restaurant, but the food is very upscale.  Flavorful rather than spicy, though you can add hot sauce if you so choose.

Tortilla chips were crisp, salty and served warm, with both red and green salsas.  Sangria was sweet and fruity.  He had the queso fundito, served in an iron skillet, the cheese buried beneath a generous serving of chorizo -- this could easily be shared.  My empanadas were less impressive -- two small pastries, garnished with crema; the crust was a bit thick and hard, the beef filling a bit bland until I dipped the pastries into the accompanying salsa.

Entrees -- he had the Res a la Plancha Iron Skillet Tacos, steak tacos served fajita-style.  I had the Enchiladas Mixatas -- two enchiladas stuffed with chicken, steak and chorizo, and the chef was happy to substitute a red sauce for the usual mole poblano. Rice and beans were served family style with the entrees.   All delicious.

We don't usually order dessert, but it was included with  the prix fixe dinner.  He had flan -- a nice portion of creamy custard accompanied by fresh strawberries on a bed of whipped cream.  I had the fried ice cream, which was plated with a berry sauce and topped with whipped cream.

Service was friendly and efficient.  There is ample parking in the lot behind the building.

Overall a good experience, and I'm sure we will be back.

Friday, February 2, 2018

#skywatchfriday. — from last spring


Thursday, February 1, 2018


The shortest month of the year, in the dead of winter. Ugh.

And yet a month full of fun. Small celebrations to brighten the midwinter gloom.

Groundhog Day.  The Superbowl. Mardis Gras.  Chinese New Year.  Valentine's Day.  President's Day.

And on a personal note, Drew's birthday.  And my birthday.

I'm looking forward to it.

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